6 Best Practices for Delivering Excellent Customer Service on Social Media

If there is one thing that customer service professionals are reminded of during the holiday season it’s that it doesn’t matter if you’re in a store, on the phone, or online – no one likes to wait.

This turns out to be particularly true when it comes to handling customer service inquiries on social media.  A recent study shows that on Twitter, 53% of customers expect a brand to respond in under an hour.  This same study indicated that when companies fail to meet these response expectations, the majority of users will escalate their negativity.  These negative results can range from the loss of a sale to publicly shaming the brand on social media.

The reality is that customer service expectations are rising year over year and consumers are looking for brands to create a seamless experience that spans the showroom floor to the Facebook timeline. Simply having a social media presence is no longer enough.

How do you improve your social customer service? We’ve put together a guide for some best practices to delivering excellent customer service on social media:

1. Go to the People

A major challenge to providing social customer service is determining where to focus your organization’s time and resources.  While marketing departments may drive traffic to targeted social sites, customer service teams must meet their customers where they are already socializing.

For most companies, Facebook and Twitter will be the primary target for social customer service, but some brands may find that their customers also frequent Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, or other social platforms. To get an idea of where your audience is, search for mentions of your brand within popular social sites.  If you are finding that your audience isn’t talking about your brand online yet, look for ways to include yourself in conversations relevant to your industry. Remember that the best way to be welcomed into social conversations is to add something of value.

2. Track and Manage Volume

Your company’s size and industry are going to affect its social metrics. Some companies see a lot of “noise” via social media, making their challenge to sift through this noise to find the top priority comments that warrant a response. Other companies may find that the majority of their contacts are direct requests for customer service. Depending on the volume of social interactions your brand generates your ability to keep track of social inquiries might be made easier by a customer service platform that can integrate with social media and turn posts, tweets, and direct or private messages into tickets. In this way, you can easily address, track, and fix issues behind the scenes, while still responding to the customer in a timely manner.

With the fast pace of social media, response time is critical.  Your company may find it helpful to put a priority list in place, putting an emphasis on: direct technical questions, user complaints, urgent service requests, and issues that affect many users and could raise a potential public relations crisis.

3. Don’t be Tone-Deaf

Research has shown that your tone of voice is incredibly important in traditional customer service, this also holds true in social media service as well.  Some of the challenges in communicating an appropriate “tone” with social customer care is navigating the platform that the customer is using.  In the example of Twitter, you are limited by the number of characters you can use which can make it difficult to get your nuances exactly right.

A helpful tip in having the right “tone” with your social media customers is to mirror their communication style.  If your customer uses a lot of emojis or abbreviations, try talking back to them in the same manner.  This can make the customer more comfortable expressing their issues and also help to communicate an empathetic customer service professional behind the screen.

4. Look for Mentions That Might Not Be Obvious

A recent report from Conversocial shows that  3% of users actually use a company’s official Twitter handle.  This means that if you’re only watching out for @YourCompany comments, you’re missing out on the vast majority of the conversation.

An easy fix for this is to search for hashtags of #YourCompany in addition to mentions.  Remember that it is easy for spelling errors to happen on social media platforms, so keep an eye out for easy misspellings such as #YourCompny or #YouCompany.

5. Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em

There are many reasons for addressing customer service issues through social media platforms.  You are able to demonstrate a high level of technical knowledge, reveal a competent and caring customer service team, and increase brand credibility, to name a few. However, there are times when information can become too sensitive for public conversations (account numbers, passwords, phone numbers, and more) and it’s during these conversations that you need to be able to take the conversation offline.

Try incorporating these responses to messages that may be headed in a sensitive direction:

@Customer My sincerest apologies! I would be happy to look into this for you. Can you please follow us and DM me with your order #?

@Customer So sorry for those emails! If you need help w/ your email settings, don’t hesitate to LiveChat us [bit.ly/link]

6. Make Lemonade

Lastly, when working through customer issues on social media, remember the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Sure, having your brand name questioned publicly can be a difficult, humbling, and frustrating experience, but when a social customer support specialist is able to solve problems and fix issues on that same public platform your brand credibility and loyalty sky rockets.

Regular monitoring of your company’s social media pages combined with savvy use of the sites can elevate your customer service efforts from acceptable to exceptional. The better your social care, the more social traffic you can expect.  Treehouse Technology Group partners with Zendesk to provide a superior social customer service platform that streamlines all conversations and captures data across all social media platforms in one place.  If you’re looking for more information about using social media for customer service, please contact Treehouse Technology Group.

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